The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, February 26, 2016

Just Opened March 4, 2016

Kent Nagano, cond.
Montreal Symphony OrchestraOlivier Latry, organist emeritus of the MSO
ISBN# 7 74204 87792 7
The official premier performance of the new organ in the relatively new Montreal Symphony House gives us the opportunity to hear a beloved major work for orchestra and organ, as well as two new works.   The opening piece and major work of this CD is the Saint Saens "Organ Symphony."  The final work on the CD is the most challenging, very much of the "modern" era, and many of our listeners would find it excessively jarring and unpleasant, but these works are important for musicians remaining in the "serious" mode of exploring new compositions, and cultivating the working composers of today.  Between these two is a new work, "A Globe Itself Infolding" (yes, in-folding) which is meditative and layers tone on tone in a peaceful "new age-y" sort of contemplative work that is surprising mellow for the grand combination of organ and symphony.  It may be reading too much into it to say that the central location of this work may be an indicator of the importance they expect it to have... certainly it is a work that would be suitable for a variety of religious services (for the churches lucky enough to have a combination of organ and symphony at their disposal).

Piano Music of Robert Schumann
and Frederick Chopin
ALBANY/TROY 1601 & 2
2 CD set
ISBN# 0 34061 16012 0
It is rare for a mature, regularly performing, internationally recognized performer past the age of 80 to continue making CDs.  Cockrell asks and answers this question in the notes to this set.   Trained at Juliard and Harvard College, he has taught for over 40 years at the University of Albany, with additional private students, and has also conducted.   He says the purpose of playing is performing, and CDs fullfill the dual purpose of preserving and confirming favorite repertoire, but also the opportunity to perform beyond one own physical performance "region."  And, on a practical note, he mentions the hope that new performance dates may come from this extended reach of the CD.  So now I'm going to be a musical yenta:  concert producers take note - he's interested and available!

Seunghee Lee, clarinet
Evan Solomon, piano
ISBN# 0 99402 57792 0
My Delight of the Week!  One of the difficult pleasures of my job is having to listen to many, many new releases, and then choosing a delight from amongst a selection of wonderful and often incredibly varied CDs.  Seunghee Lee is an artist whose work I simply enjoy.  She simply gets out of the way and makes beautiful music for us (amply aided by pianist Evan Solomon).  Her previous CD has been a staple of our playlist, and this CD, with a continuation of well-loved, "timeless classic" works is simply more of the same, in the best possible way.  While many of our listeners enjoy a challenge from time to time, the majority of our listeners simply want to hear and enjoy beautiful music.  Here it is - again!

Manhattan Camerata
with Nathalie Pires, fado singer
Polly Ferman, piano & Daniel Binelli, bandoneon
ISBN# 8 88295 36815 5
Sorel Classics is a new, selective label that continues to impress in its commitment to female performers and variety of fine concert repertoire.  The connections (and contrasts) between Argentinian tango music and Portugese fado music are explored with all the craft, finesse, seriousness, utmost musicality - and - the infectious joy and spirited verve that you could hope for!

Kara Dahl Russell

Just Opened, Feb. 26, 2016 - Folk Traditions

Today on Just Opened, we explore music from many folk traditions:  lush orchestral arrangments of celtic songs and other popular music featuring formal Royal Harpist Claire Jones, very early folk music and dances, spanish- inspired piano music by Vanessa Perez, and new music for the oldest instruments - percussion!

Claire Jones, harp
Chris Marshall, arranger
London Mozart Players
ISBN# 7 38572 60512 4
My Delight of the Week!  A combination of luscious arrangements for harp and orchestra (arrangements by Claire's husband, Chris Marshall), of immense popularity.  Almost all the arrangements are soothing, and only one or two solos (the magnificent "Les Dances des Sylphes" by Felix Godefroid).  Jones is former "Royal Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales" and her beauty alone would be enough to attract attention... so her talent, and over 180 royal performance engagements in her 4 year tenure to the royals is icing on the cake.  If my research serves me correctly, this CD is a compilation of 2 CDs sold in Britain, put out to coincide with her tour in the Unites States (she is due nearby in Washington D.C. in early March).  All the works are popular, whether traditional celtic tunes, familiar film melodies, or great opera arias in instrumental arrangements.  When people think of the sound of harp and orchestra, timeless beauty and magical melody, this is exactly what they expect.  This CD is crossover in the best sense, combining popular melody with fine arrangements for orchestra, an easy favorite.
For info. & tickets on Claire Jones' performance in D.C. click here.

New York's Ensemble for Early Music
Frederick Renz, Dir.
ISBN# 7 44457 80162 8
Some of our listeners just can't get enough of music from 1500s and before.  This particular selection (released way back in 1995) is an infectious grouping of dances from the 1300s.  Music this old has a way of sounding extremely current, and it speaks to this CD still being available on many websites, including "world music" sites.   Renz and New York's Ensemble for Early Music have a sizable CD output (on several different labels), and they have become synonymous with rigor in exploration of early music, and delightfully "present" performances.

Vanessa Perez, piano
ISBN# 0 34062 30036 5
Pianist Perez has received high praises from international luminaries like Gustavo Dudamel, Claudio Arrau, and  Zubin Mehta.  This CD features works inspired by Spain, focusing on two beloved composers:  Manuel da Falla, and Claude Debussy.  Her work has been called shimmering, powerful, vivid, and stylish.  This are essential piano pieces, adding a flourish to your listening library.

(works by) Steve Reich
ISBN# 7 35131 61612 7
New works by Reich played by this accomplished and esteemed percussion ensemble.

Thank you for your support of new works, JUST OPENED!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, February 19, 2016

Just Opened - February 19, 2016

New music in a variety of forms and traditional works performed with freshness and new intention.

New Music for Bassoon & Piano
Matthew Morris, bassoon
MSR 1547
ISBN# 6 81585 15472 4
more about Morris
A CD of new works for Bassoon and piano.  These works are part adventuresome, partly lyric... a good mix to display technical proficiency and the luscious sound of the bassoon.
VISIONE (selected songs of)
Luigi Mantegani
Roberta Canzian, soprano
Ena Ferrari, piano
Visione Music 2014
ISBN# 6 44167 15682 0
(available through many online CD resources)
My Delight of the Week!  This is an enhanced CD that includes sheet music files of the music.  Mantegani lived from 1894 to 1989, but the sound of these art songs remains very true to the Romantic era.  I can think of many pianists and sopranos who would be delighted to receive this CD, and the fact that the music is available with the listening experience is a wonderful concept.  Swiss/Italian composer Mantegani is best known for his religious works.  His art songs, mostly settings of Italian poets, have a clarity of melodic line reminiscent of Faure.  Canzian & Ferrari keep things simple and true to the text, to enable us to hear the composer's works in the most straightforward way... there is a purity here of tone (and intention).  A wonderful introduction to lesser known works that are ripe to be included in recitals of today.

The Art of the Chamber Orchestra
Book II
Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra
Scott Hosfeld, cond.
ISBN# 6 14325 70812 3
Newman's works have been recognized in film scores and orchestras and commissioned works.  This is the second "chapter" in her recordings of her very accessible chamber works.

Orechestral Arrangements for Piano 4 hands
Shelest Piano Duo
ISBN# 8 88295 25659 9
They could both easily be cover models, but this husband and wife duo are immensely talented pianists with solo careers.  They also play as a duo and this CD is the result.  The timeless appeal of works by Smetana, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Gershwin.

Music for solo cello
Rhonda Rider, cello
MSR 1462
ISBN# 6 81585 14622 4
This CD should be of intense interest to cellists, both for Rider's technical prowess and for the wealth of unusual new works here.  The scrumptious voice of Rider's 1760 cello, and her musicality, give full nuance, emotional power, and texture to these challenging new works for solo cello.

Roberto McCausland Dieppa, piano
ISBN# 8 88295 14078 2
For many years now, Dieppa has used a logo of his hair and glasses as a signature.  This kind of negative space image says a lot about the fully integrated artistic approach that he has to his music, and also the modernity of his approach to recording.  (Humorously, in our presidential run, this logo of a shock of hair and glasses appears to be his endorsement for Bernie Sanders, whose campaign has begun using a similar image.)  Dieppa's performances are rich in nuance and tonal blending.  This Cd of "Encores II" are just that - well loved and immensely popular works - performed by a master.

Thank you for your support of Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, February 12, 2016

Just Opened, Feb. 12, 2016

Today we have contrasts of traditional music and contemporary works, and some food for thought about inclusion in the arts.

The African American Concert Spiritual
Seraphic Fire
Patrick Dupre Quigley, piano & cond.
SFM 642 7
ISBN# 6 143325 79642 7
When an all white choral group makes the decision to approach traditional African American material, they know it will be mentioned.  (Having only two male african american soloists featured on this Cd make the photo of the all-white choral group more noticable.)  The choice demonstrates a laudible intentionality of purpose in showcasing this music of great historic significance beyond a racial confine.  In the publicity material, Seraphic Fire has stated that this choice demonsrates their belief that this music should have a larger place in the repertoire of concert music.  Unfortunately, the choice does also highlight how segregated music making often remains - even among really fine groups like this.  Conductor James De Priest often made the point that while his outreach work playing the music of African American composers was important, that he conducted all composers from around the world, and did not want to be known for just one segment of his work.  In this day and age of "diversity," there can sometimes be a fine line between celebrating diversity and segregating the arts.  For artists of EVERY race, making choices that call attention to race can be a double edged sword.    Kudos to Seraphic Fire for not letting this disuade them.  Any lover of choral music will know that this CD audibly makes the case for the timeless and universal beauty of these works.

So - something to think about and discuss with friends - why ARE so many choral groups so often racially unmixed?

NOTE  3/7/16:  The publicist for Seraphic Fire has asked us to note that the individual members of Seraphic Fire vary as the singers are available for each performance and recording, and while the group photo on this CD is all white, this was only representative of the day the photo was taken.  They want us to know that there are regularly members of many races (including the 2 soloists featured on this CD) within their regular roster of singers.
       "It is important to Patrick and Seraphic Fire that the listeners understand Seraphic Fire is not an all-white choir.  The ensemble regularly includes Charles and Reggie, and singers of diverse ethnic backgrounds, not just on this album but for their performances and concert tours as well." -- Becca McCoy of Rebecca Davis Public Relations

Vol. 5 Complete String Quartets
Quartetto di Cremona
with Lawrence Dutton, viola
AUDITE 92.684
ISBN# 4 022143 92684 5
Beethoven's only string quintet is featured alongside his "Thanksgiving" quartet in this CD, vol. 5 in the series of Beethoven quartets recorded by Quartetto di Cremona, hailed as "Italy's most exciting string quartet."

-- In light of the comments above about the racial composition of music groups, we should, perhaps refer to this quartet as an "all male" group?

Symphony No. 4 (Tansman Episodes)
London Philharmonic Orch.
Andrey Boreyko, cond.
NONESUCH 549570-2
ISBN# 0 78597 95034 2
With the subject matter often dark, the musical influences modern (Alexander Tansman was known for breaking up musical forms), and the tonalities often non-melodic and bombastic, the music of Gorecki has been known to cause heated debates amongst our listeners, and is certainly not for those seeking musical cotton candy.  His music HAS won the regard of musicologists as a leading Polish composer of the avant garde movement, and a 1992 recording of his Symphony No. 3 sold over one million copies and reached the top of the Classical Music charts.  Certainly by any standard of recognition, when the London Philharmonic Orchestra undertakes the recording of all the Symphonies of one composer, it is a major stamp of approval.  This symphony is being released individually, as part of a 7 disc set. 

Helene Grimaud, piano
Deutsche Grammophone
Deutsche Gram. 479 3424
ISBN#  0289 479 3426 4
This CD of international piano virtuoso Grimaud is very much a collaboration with producer Nitin Sawhney, who composed transitional pieces that combine piano and electronic sound production into what they call an "acoustic stream" and a "musical ecosystem."  One performance saw the concert stage being filled with water as Grimaud played.   While many of the works are challenging (even the choice of Faure's Barcarolle No. 5 is one of the least melody driven of his Barcarolles), steeped into the foundation of this program are well loved works like Liszt's virtuoso showpiece, "The Play of Water at the Villa d'Este" and Debussy's "Sunken Cathedral" (which is often mentioned as a favorite work of many pianists).  For many years, Grimaud has been an established artist who has consciously used her visibility to highlight extra-musical causes.  With water resources and availability regularly in the international news, and now problems with tainted water here in the states, this CD has a world-wide resonance on many levels.

Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, January 29, 2016

Just Opened, January 29, 2016

Old, New and Happy New Year!  Today on Just Opened.

Vienna Philharmonic
Mariss Jansons
SONY 5174802
ISBN# 8 88751 74802 6
Vienna Phil. website
My Delight of the Week! If you feel as I do... a year starts off best by watching/hearing the Vienna Philharmonic New Year Concert.  Each year these concerts are made available, so you can revisit that "fresh New Year" feeling, and the glorious timeless music played by one of the greatest orchestras in the world.  This year's program included the rarely heard "Vienna Maidens Waltz... which features the orchestra whistling the melody against the accompaniment of solo harp... it gives me chills and goosebumps every time I hear it! 

Piano Music of Bolivia
Walter Aparicio, piano
ISBN# 6 81585 15462 5
Pianists are always looking for new repertoire that is melodic and accessible, but also interesting.  These works are just the ticket, performed by an accomplished, multiple award-winning pianist who has made a purpose of cultivating these works from his home country, that could be called Contemporary South American Romanticism.   Folk melodies and infectious driving rhythms in a variety of settings.   A marvelous program in itself, any one of these works could be individually inspirational to pianists, and a great way to add color to a program.

Sonatas from 17th Century Germany
Passamezzo Moderno
ISBN# 8 45121 08226 5
Passamezzo Moderno, founded in 2005, is a period ensemble that performs the music of three centuries, from 1530 to 1830, and specializes in the virtuoso instrumental music of the 17th century.  The blend of strings and bassoon, both an historically accurate and a pleasing grouping, along with their dedication and affection for this obscure repertoire, make it lively and appealing.

The Sixteen
Harry Christophers, cond.
CORO 16133
ISBN# 8 28021 61332 6
Now on Volume 6 of their dedicated CD explorations of the works of Giovanni da Palestrina, Harry Christophers and "The Sixteen" are renowned internationally for their respect for early works, for exquisitely seamless vocals on complex historic materials, and they have developed an avid fan base around the world.

Thank you for listening to new works, Just Opened.
If you enjoy Just Opened, it needs your financial support!   All programs on Delmarva Public Radio are listener supported.  Please take a moment to click the red button at the upper right of the page and make your support tangible!  Thank you!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, January 22, 2016

January 22, 2016

Many of our releases today feature women in Music, the Cecilia String Quartet, pianist Klara Min, and composer Stacy Garrop put forth a strong case for serious accomplished women.  Overall, today's program is one leaning more toward the "serious" music listener... with the accomplished soundings of Ensemble Caprice giving us seamless combinations of early and modern works, or the soundtrack to the feature film YOUTH, which combines many styles of music with traditional orchestral works and new works in a minimal vein by David Lang.

Klara Min, piano
ISBN# 0 34062 30045 7
My Delight of the Week!
Before the minimalism of today, we had the predominantly quiet and thoughtful music of Scriabin that was pointing toward the compositional world of today.  But he was pointing to this new musical thought while standing firmly in the basis of the melodic Romantic era, so that, to the modern ear, his works feel profoundly peaceful, with the soothing touch of reassuring melody.  Min has the technique to make Scriabin's sometimes challenging structures smooth as velvet, and the reassuring restraint to let the music unfold as slowly as an Iris blossom.  She has chosen works that fit together beautifully, to immerse us in restful refreshment of a musical oasis.
Voices of Eternity
Ensemble Caprice
Mattias Maute, cond.
ISBN# 7 74204 91322 9
Mattias Maute & Ensemble caprice have been on our air for at least a decade, with literate, studious, dedicated, sparkling, lively interpretations of early and baroque works.  This CD craftily contrasts new works by Maute in the style of his beloved eras with original era works into a
Cecilia String Quartet
ISBN# 7 74204 91322 9
Meant ENTIRELY as a compliment:  in a day when female composers rarely had sufficient training, and their work was dismissed as lacking, Felix Mendelssohn (and Chopin) were able to mine their feminine sides for music with lightness, classicism, depth and variety of emotion, passion and, in Mendelssohn's case, spritely humor.  The accomplished women of this quartet takes all these elements into luminous stride to create a significant recording of Mendelssohn's beloved quartets.

Orchestral Works by Stacy Garrop
CCPA Symphony Orchestra
ISBN# 7 35131 91602 8
If you love the power and punch of Beethoven's works, you'll find that here in these orchestral works composed by Garrop.   These are by no means classical works, blend world music and at quieter times, a pinch of new age minimalism with the force of thunder, and you'll get a sense of Garrop's work.   Works here inspired by mythology and ancient peoples.  Garrop's works are being performed and comissioned all over the world.  Hers is a name to know, and this particular CD is a great way to familiarze yourself with her sound.  IF she had been seeking to prove that women can compose music that doesn't sound like "a girl" wrote it, case stated and won!

YOUTH (soundtrack)
David Lang, composer
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Trio Medaevale, Sumi Jo, BBC Concert Orch.
ISBN # 7 31387 ?7592 8
A wide variety of performers and styles.  The film is about a composer, and how is world is composed of sounds.  New orchestral and chamber works by David Lang represent the works of the composer played by Michael Caine.  Orchestral excerpts by Debussy, Mercadante, and Stravinsky populate the score alongside a wide variety of pop music performers and styles.

A special thanks to all of you who support the classical music programming here on WSCL.  It is profound honor to be able to share this great music with you.   Join me again next week, for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Just Opened, January 8, 2015 - 5 in the chamber

Mostly Chamber works today on Just Opened, with an older release tossed in that is new to our library, with a special focus on music inspired by traditional works of the orient, and spanish cultures.

Organ Works Vol. III
Robert Quinney, organ
CORO 16132
ISBN #8 28021 61322 7
Info. on Robert Quinney
English organist, Robert Quinney, studied at King's College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar. On graduating from Cambridge (with BA and M.Phil. degrees) Quinney became Acting Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey for a year, then moved to Westminster Cathedral as Assistant Master of Music in September 2000.  He won the Royal College of Organists Performer of the Year competition in 2002.  He returned to Westminster Abbey in 2004, has toured and recorded with their choir, and was principal organist for many events.  In April of 2013 he became Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral.  This is the third in his series of Bach works for the Coro label.  Gramophone wrote, "Alongside his impeccable performances, Quinney’s greatest achievement is to produce music-making which really communicates itself to the listener."  These works, including the Canonic Variations and Pastorella (suite) are performed on The Meltzer organ of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Lorraine Hunt, mezzo
Nicholas McGegan, cond.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Released in 1994
Bio of Lorraine Hunt 1954-2006
This CD was not in our library, and gave us a nice contrast to the chamber works featured today.  It gave us an equally nice chance to explore the early work of this internationally renowned singer who died young.

Zhang Zhao, piano & arranger
Schott Publications
info. on purchase of sheet music book & cd
My delight of the week!  Of particular interest to those who play the piano, this CD is included with the sheet music book of the works.  I have always been personally enamored of "orientale" music of the romantic era, and arrangements and transcriptions of music from the far east.  Zhang Zhao takes a page from the romantic-era, a focus on traditional folk melody, and creates lush, accessible, mostly low intermediate level piano work arrangments.  There are a series of these "Melodies of China" books, for different instruments, featuring different pieces.  Each has an accompanying CD of performances of the sheet music, here beautifully performed by the arranger himself.  The music is under copyright to the People's Republic of China, and they have a special publication relationship with the German company, Schott Publishing, one of the largest sheet music publishers in Europe.  What is particularly nice about this collection, is that the provinces are identified where the folk melody originated.   It is a good way for piano teachers to add some interesting "flavors" to the repertoire for students, and for performers, too!

Boston Cello Quartet
ISBN# 8 63428 00020 1
Sometimes we receive promotional copies of a CD so quickly, that the information on them can not yet be easily found online.   Such is the case with this CD... as of today, it is not even on their website yet.  So... consider this a tickling of your musical tastebuds, and if you want to purchase the CD, I'm sure they'd be delighted to receive and email through their website about it.  (It IS availble through multiple online resources... try your favorite online CD store.) The works on this CD are sometimes familiar, always accessible.  Works by Chabrier, Corea, Granados, Barroso, Albeniz, and a new highly melodic work by Patrice Sciortino, all easy on the ears, all inspired by the toe tapping rhythms of Spanish and Latin American music.

Aaron Larget-Caplan, guitar
ISBN# 5 060192 780567
This CD features arrangements by Asian composers and works inspired by eastern legends and music by westerners.  The largescale title work for solo guitar was arranged by David Russell.  There is a piece by Leo Brower inspired by composer Toru Takamitsu, and arrangments by Takamitsu of works by Arlen & Gershwin.  There are also a few first recordings of new works.  Aaron Larget-Caplan is a roster artist for the New England Foundation for the Arts' New England States Touring Grant program, and has received rave reviews for his performances across the U.S. and internationally.  This CD presents variations of style and composer on the strong theme of guitar music inspired by the far east.

Music of Michael Eckert
Amanda McCandless, clarinet
Polina Khatsko, piano
Unison Piano Duo
MSR 1549
ISBN# 6 81585 15492 2
Bio and Info on Michael Eckert
New music by a living composer!  No need to hide or cover your ears, this collection by Michael Eckert is all filled with melody and easy to enjoy.  The rich clarinet of McCandless joins effortlessly with the accomplished accompaniment of Khatsko, and nice tonal contrast is provided by the works for piano duo, richly performed by the husband and wife team, Unison Piano Duo.   If you want to try new music, but are afraid that it will be too far from the madding crowd, this CD gives you an engaging variety of new works from a composer you'll want to follow and hear more of.

Join us again next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell


The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.